Dadria Millwood’s life started to spiral out of control when she became pregnant and dropped out of Spanish Town High School in St. Catherine when she was in fourth form.
“When I found out that I was pregnant, I tried to take my life,” she told The Beacon. “I attempted suicide five times.”
Millwood, whose baby boy died two weeks after birth, recalled that her living arrangements became chaotic.
When she was not at her mother’s residence at Sydenham in Spanish Town, she was homeless, or was staying with people she knew – including a sister who lives at Linstead in St. Catherine.
That sister, Melissa Golding, was a cosmetologist, and Millwood ended up working with her.
Millwood, at different points, also worked as a higgler in St. Ann, and a bartender at Linstead, Dam Head and Spanish Town in St. Catherine.
She also found employment at two restaurants until she started selling jerk chicken along the roadway in the Sydenham area.
She, in 2009, joined forces with one of her sisters – Keisha Campbell, and opened Sisters Beauty, Barber and Hair Supplies in Spanish Town. They operated the business for 10 years.
Amid the ups and downs she faced, Millwood never lost sight of the need to strengthen her credentials.
She sat two CXC subjects, but failed both.
She later successfully pursued a certificate course at Marie’s School of Cosmetology in Spanish Town.
Millwood also enrolled at the Vocational Training Development Institute in Kingston in 2012, by which time she had amassed more than 20 years experience in the cosmetology industry. “I went to the college and got a degree in Education, specializing in Beauty Services,” she said, adding that she graduated with honours.
Millwood subsequently worked at Children First Agency, teaching Cosmetology for a three-year period.
She left Children First in 2020 to take up a job at a public high school, but she was in for a rude awakening.
“Upon resigning my job, I was supposed to start working the following Monday [at the public high school],” Millwood explained. “When I went there, they said they don’t need any teacher. I was left without a job – no income coming in.”
The disappointment left Millwood in a tailspin.
Amid the turbulence, she opened a business – Creative Mind School Of Beauty – in Linstead in February last year.
“Before starting my business and all of that, my life was just in shambles,” she said, adding that her situation was worsened by national restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Millwood, who said she benefited immensely from mentorship for three years, is now a certified coach – reaching out to people in need of mentorship.
She told The Beacon that she is passionate about mentoring especially girls from the inner-city and those who dropped out of school.
“Life doesn’t end there,” Millwood advised. “You just need to rise up and push again.”
The entrepreneur, who is now a homeowner, has been married to Horace Millwood for 13 years.
She said: “I had a messy marriage, but I am no longer enduring my marriage; I am now enjoying it.”
Millwood has two children alive and has been a Christian for 16 years.
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